In today’s market, a business is asked to be many things.
While offering comprehensive one-on-one customer service was enough in the past, successful contemporary print studios thrive on their ability to match the quality of their service with the speed and efficiency of their online capabilities.
If you’re new to upload to print, or have been resisting it for a while…. Here’s our top five reasons it’s essential for the modern fine art print studio.
Let us show you why.
Say you’re a fine art reproduction company in a small, rural town like Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There’s an artist with digital files that is looking to find someone to make their prints, so they open up google and search for “fine art printing jackson hole wyoming”. It should be noted that “fine art printing” is one of the highest, if not the highest volume keyword phrases searched for according to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. If you simply add your city and state after those phrases like we did, you can see which players are competing for your customer right now.
Let’s see what they will see:
Notice the companies highlighted in red are two national players who are specifically advertising to capture artists in the small town of Jackson Hole away from you. They both offer very high quality fine art printing; they are not consumer upload sites. They believe they can provide your artist with a better overall experience and they are likely succeeding, otherwise, they wouldn’t be advertising here any longer. In other words, they are actively taking customers out of your market.
On top of that, in these same search results, you will likely see many other players actively trying to attract artists out of your market.
Therefore, it is logical to conclude that standing on the sidelines and hoping that your customers (who already have digitized images) will never buy from any of your competitors — especially when it is so easy to do so — is not a strategy that will sustain you for many more years.
All the professional photo labs have it. So if you don’t have it, you’ll never be a legitimate player in this space.
The advent of the digital camera has created an enormous “professional photographer” market, because anyone and everyone thinks they are a professional photographer (to learn more, see ‘What Cameras Do Professional Photographers Use?‘). Coupled with the fact that the digital files are ready to upload and print (i.e. no scanning required), this market is dramatically larger than the market for traditional fine art reproduction.
True professional photographers demand high quality and are willing to pay a higher price to get it.
This is the exact type of customer that every fine art printing company wants. The best part about these customers is that every city is guaranteed to have a ton of them, which means they are local, and they are more likely to buy from you. This is a highly lucrative opportunity for the companies that are looking to serve them.
The only issue that fine art printing companies have in servicing this market is when they don’t offer the industry-standard buying experience that professional photographers have come to expect.
Don’t take our word for it. Just Google “professional photo printing” and look at all the results you see. Almost every single professional photo lab who caters to the discerning professional photographer offers easy upload to print ordering. They don’t make their customers call them or email them and go through a back and forth process in order to do something as simple as placing a print order.
If you do, you’re going to have a problem not only acquiring, but retaining these customers over the long run. Like bringing sticks and stones to a gun fight.
There are far more artists out there with digitized images that are ready to be uploaded and purchased, versus those who need new scans done first. Do you want these customers?
“But artists always have bad scans that I have to re-do, and so I wouldn’t want them to upload and order from me.”
Really? You don’t want to acquire a new customer? You don’t want to position yourself to receive business from arguably the largest opportunity within the fine art reproduction market? This is one of the most troubling responses we hear from fine art printing companies that are trying to sustain themselves in today’s ultra-competitive environment.
The smart fine art printing companies use the upload to print tool, adroitly, as an easy way to acquire new customers and build new relationships where others are not.
It doesn’t matter what the quality of the file is! Why? Because if the file quality is bad, simply call the newly acquired customer and tell them “thank you so much for placing an order with us, we’ve been doing fine art printing for years, we love working alongside artists and you’ve absolutely come to the right place and we can’t wait to make your prints. The only thing is, we noticed the quality of the file wasn’t really up to snuff and we really recommend re-scanning the original in order to make it top notch and we’d be glad to do it for you. Do you want to do that? If not, we can still print your order, but its not the best we can do for you.”
Whatever the customer decides, you have a new customer and your competitor doesn’t. You’ve also had the chance to talk to them and tell them why you are awesome, which means they’ll probably buy from you again.
Whether you choose to do so or not, a large part of the fine art reproduction industry is already using Upload to Print.
It’s easy to understand why. The cost of acquiring a new customer is one of the most expensive, while also one of the most important indicators of the health of any small business.
Adding Upload to Print is like opening a 24-hour drive-through window that sends a clear message to new customers: “We would love to do business with you, and we’re ready to do so right now.”
By simply allowing you to acquire more customers on a daily basis, it will immediately and dramatically lower your cost of acquiring new customers.
People in their 20’s, 30’s, and even into their 40’s, expect to complete transactions entirely online, and not through back-and-forth phone calls or emails.
Are your current customers the end of the market, or the future of the market?
Most fine art reproductions studios we speak to who don’t already have Upload to Print capabilities have an abnormally old and less tech-savvy customer base, who still have the patience to deal with an ordering process that, when compared with Upload to Print, is like standing in line at the DMV. It’s not surprising; all the younger and more tech savvy customers are already buying from companies who make it easy for them.
We hear it all the time – “If an artist only wants to buy one print, I can’t afford to service that customer and I don’t want that customer”.
Why can’t you afford to service this customer? It’s because the old-school way you process a transaction consumes your profit.
You have to go back and forth on emails or phone calls to simply answer all the questions, make sure the file is good to go, collect a credit card, process the order, get a new credit card when its declined, provide a tracking number, answer questions about when the order will arrive, and so forth. There’s no way to make money doing this, and it doesn’t have to be this way.
On a grander scale, ask yourself if avoiding the new and budding artists, and pushing them to your competitors, is really a solid long-term strategy.
With Upload to Print, the cumbersome ordering process is automated – which means the fine art printing companies who use it are taking on these new, smaller customers every day and are doing so profitably.
They are building relationships and reinforcing their brand with new artists who are trying to build their businesses.
One day, many of these artists will turn into bigger customers and when that day comes, who do you think they will continue to order from?
Is your fine art reproduction business in a strong position to compete in this industry over the next 3-5 years, or will you need to evolve in some way?
If we can't teach you, no one can!